MEASURING SUSTAINABILITY
Alan Pickaver1, Maria Ferreira1, Margarida Nunes2, Xenia I.Loizidou3andMichael I. Loizides3
Coastal& Marine Union (EUCC)
P.O. Box 11232, 2301 EE, Leiden, The Netherlands
E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]
1
Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente, I.P., Administração da RegiãoHidrográfica do Tejo,
9001:2008 pela APCER, Av. Almirante GagoCoutinho, 30 - 1049 - 066 Lisboa
E-mail: [email protected]
2
3
ISOTECH Ltd Research and Consultancy
P.O. Box 14161, 2154 Nicosia, Cyprus, www.isotech.com.cy
E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]
SUMMARY
Increasingly, humankind is attempting to move towards a sustainable future.
Unfortunately, communities do not have a means of adequately measuring whether it is
reaching that goal or not. This paper sets out an indicator-based methodology which
would allow a numerical value to be attributed to the efforts of Authorities to determine if
they were reaching their strategic sustainability goals. It was developed in the ERDFfunded INTERREG IVC project SUSTAIN.
This goal was achieved by the selection of relevant, scoreable indicators that had available
data. Indicators were chosen to cover 22 distinct Issues within the four recognisable
pillars of sustainability i.e. Governance, Economics, Environmental Quality and Social Wellbeing. Innovation was introduced through the use of a checklist for Governance, as
opposed to traditional indicators which are notoriously difficult to measure, and the
combination of a set of Core Indicators together with Optional Indicators to reflect local
needs and specificities.
Data for the relevant indicators is fed into a newly developed policy tool, DeCyDe. This is
a user-friendly, spreadsheet tool which serves as a self-assessment to determine,
numerically, whether an authority is moving towards a sustainable end-point. It is done
through highly participatory workshops where discussion about the Issues, Indicators and
data is as important as the numerical value obtained.
The only problems to this approach, common to any methodology based upon indicators,
are the time needed to find the relevant data and the sometimes lack of data. However,
whilst nothing can be done about the former problem, the latter is minimised since
DeCyDe is flexible and robust enough to cope with less-than-perfect or absent data.
Together, the Sustain Indicator Set and DeCyDe tool constitute a friendly to use rapid
implementation, self-assessment tool. It respects the time limitations of policy-makers
and other stakeholders.
A Methodological Framework
Sustainability is more of a generalised concept than a fundamental truth. It does not have
defined parameters that can be scientifically determined. Neither is it constant but
continuously changing. Indicators that are applied to determine sustainability today rarely
take this into account and, paradoxically, use data that has been precisely measured.
Many of the indicators are very specific and many measure parameters which are beyond
the sphere of influence of regional/local authorities. A pre-requisite for any determination
at local or regional Authority level, is a framework in which the Indicators and their
scoring can be placed. This framework, by necessity, needs to be based in policy and in
implementable instruments e.g. legislation. Therefore, a step-wise methodological
process has been developed which takes us from the starting point to the expected end
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point in a logical and cyclical manner. The framework incorporates the European strategic
goals for sustainable development and integrated coastal zone management, as well as
the most relevant issues in those domains. Having agreed strategic goals and targets,
policy-makers can measure the relevant indicators from various data-bases. The
framework explicitly addresses the selection criteria for indicators and has allowed the
analysis of international, national and local indicators in order for the SUSTAIN indicators
to be chosen by a group of involved stakeholders.
The SUSTAIN Sustainable Development Indicator Set
The Indicator Set has been deliberately based on indicators that are already in common
usage and ones that, according to EU legislation, should be regularly monitored. New
indicators, although possibly more relevant to sustainability have not been introduced if
there is no data-base from which to measure them.
SUSTAIN offers two sets of Indicators differing from the more traditional approach of
applying a fixed, standard indicator set. One of the sets, the CORE indicators, should be
used by all Authorities seeking to measure their level of sustainability. They are
considered to cover essential aspects of sustainability. They can be used with a number of
OPTIONAL indicators which reflect local/regional specificities. They have been robustly
selected using criteria such as relevance to sustainability, availability of data and their
ability to be scored.
These indicators represent the four pillars of sustainability i.e. governance, environment,
economics and social well-being. In order to show their relevance to sustainability the
different indicators have been grouped into a number of Issues. In total there are 22 key,
core Issues broken down as follows:
Governance
5 issues
Economics
4 issues
Environmental Quality 8 issues
Social-Wellbeing
5 issues
a. The Governance Issues and indicators
These indicators are used to measure the consistent management, cohesive policies,
guidance, processes and decisions for the wise use of the coast. Traditionally, indicators
to measure governance have proven to be very difficult to define. Therefore, SUSTAIN has
used a new approach which poses a series of grouped questions (each regarded as an
indicator) which require only a positive or negative response (with a don’t know’ option).
They have been structured into 5 groups of indicators:
i. Policies/ strategies for sustainability
ii. Monitoring tools for sustainability
iii. Human resources/capacity building
iv. Implementation of good management practices
v. Stakeholder involvement/public participation.
b. Economic performance Issues and indicators
These indicators have been chosen to show whether a vigorous and sustainable coastal
economy is being promoted and supported. Four key, Core Issues have been identified
which are deemed to be important for the economic contribution of sustainability in
coastal zones:
i. Economic Opportunity
ii. Fisheries and Aquaculture
iii. Land Use
iv. Tourism
v. Transportation
A further three Optional Issues have been identified:
vi. Economic Performance (1 optional indicator)
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vii. Energy & Climate Change (1 optional indicator)
viii. Fisheries and Aquaculture (1 optional indicator).
c. Environmental Quality performance Issues and Indicators
These indicators have been selected to demonstrate the availability of sustainable
environmental practices and the way they are promoted. Eight core issues have been
identified as important in a Pan-European context. They are:
i. Air Pollution
ii. Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management
iii. Change at the coast
iv. Energy & Climate Change
v. Land Use
vi. Public Health and Safety
vii. Waste Management
viii. Water resources and Pollution
Further one Optional Issues have been identified:
ix. Fisheries and Aquaculture (1 optional indicator).
d. Social Well-being performance Issues and indicators
The indicators for social well-being have been chosen to promote social unity and
durability. Five core issues have been selected, being:
i. Demography
ii. Equity
iii. Education and training
iv. Local and cultural Identity
v. Public Health and Safety
Applying the DeCyDe scoring methodology
DeCyDe is a practical method that can be implemented to give a numerical value to an
individual indicator. It is also an approach which is in line with the trend of public policies
to move from a purely conceptual and theoretical view to a more pragmatic approach,
based upon observed data. It incorporates principles from multi-criteria analysis, from
public policy approaches, from vocational training structures and basic logic principles. It
is spreadsheet-oriented. DeCyDe is structured in three preparatory, self-contained and
inter-related steps and a final stage where the actual decision-support work is done. The
preparatory steps are self-contained because they can be used per se, each step giving
specific results. They are interrelated since when put together they lead to the final stage,
where the decision is supported, based on facts and data and not to perception and
intuition. DeCyDe has been built specifically, and dedicated, for each core and optional
Sustain indicator. Determining the values of each indicator actually forms the baseline
work. The information provides a set of essential data that is needed in order to
guarantee the unbiased character of the results of the decision process. The scoring of
each indicator is achieved through a given ranges of values. The “scoring through ranges”
approach converts state-of-the-coast indicators into sustainability indicators. This is
because the score attributed immediately gives a reference value and relevance instead of
just a snap-shot single figure which stands for nothing but itself. The value of each
indicator when found is simply entered into the relevant cell in the spreadsheet and the
score attributed. As each score is entered, the overall scores alter automatically. The
issues and the pillars under which the indicators fall are then organised in matrices
(based on the concept of comparing couples). When the various weighting for the Issues
and Pillars are entered into the relevant cells, the spreadsheet automatically calculates the
overall score of all the indicators used. This is given as a single numerical value.When
these three steps have been completed, the spreadsheet tool can be operated further:
DeCyDe allows decision makers to predict how the existing situation can be changed if,
for example, they want to change the score of one or more Issues. That means that they
can easily predict what will happen should they invest resources to support the change of
score and thus the range, of a given indicator e.g. by increasing resources in waste
management recycling by moving them from aquaculture production. Alternatively, they
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can forecast what will happen if they change the importance among the four main pillars
e.g. putting more resources into Economics and less in Environmental Quality through a
change in their policy.
References
DeLone and McLean “Information Systems success. The question for the dependent variable”,
Information Systems Res. 3(1), 1992
F.J. Andre M.Al. Cardenete Carlos Romero “Designing Public Policies”, Springer 2010
Nunes M, Ramos T, Ferreira JC, Mascarenhas A (2012). Desenvolvimento de umaFerramenta de
Avaliação da SustentabilidadeparaMunicípiosCosteirosEuropeus. 11º Congresso da Água,
Porto. APRH.
X. I. Loizidou and M. I. Loizides, “Environmental Issues and Social Perception as an Inherent Part of
Coastal Erosion Management – Case Studies from Cyprus”. Proceedings of MEDCOAST 2007
(p.991-1002), Alexandria, Egypt.
X.I. Loizidou, “Public participation in practice: statements and case studies”, (invited speaker)
proceedings (CD-rom) of the ENCORA WORKSHOP THEME 2: PUBLIC PARTICIPATION within
the framework of the LITTORAL 08 Conference, Venice 25-28 November 2008.
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MEASURING SUSTAINABILITY Alan Pickaver , Maria Ferreira , Margarida Nunes